Mark Hamill’s return to the Star Wars almost didn’t happen, he revealed in a new interview with The New York Times. He will reprise his career-defining role as Luke Skywalker in the forthcoming Star Wars installment, The Last Jedi, out on December 15th.
“I was just really scared,” Hamill said of when he was first approached to return in 2015’s The Force Awakens. “I thought, why mess with it? The idea of catching lightning in a bottle twice was ridiculously remote.” His biggest concern was that audiences wouldn’t want to see him, Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo) as older iterations of their famous characters.
But Hamill’s mind changed when Ford agreed to return. “Can you imagine if I was the only one to say no?” Hamill said. “I’d be the most hated man in nerd-dom.”
Director J.J. Abrams and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan set out to create a compelling narrative for The Force Awakens – but ultimately, Abrams told The Times, they realized that Luke Skywalker’s narrative wouldn’t quite fit into the film.
“I let [Hamill] know before he read the script that his role was minimal,” Abrams said. “I don’t think he knew just how minimal until he read it.” In the end, Hamill’s part in the 2015 film involved him appearing silently at the very end of the film.
“If it smacks the audience as a cheat or a gimmick, if there’s a big groan in the house, the egg’s on my face, not J.J.’s,” Hamill said.